Check back every Wednesday for the Hokies Report to get all the biggest Virginia Tech headlines for each week, a recap of last week's game and a look ahead at next week's contest.
Virginia Tech 2-2, (0-0) in the ACC
In the news
Fuller out for the season: The big story of the week was the news that All-American cornerback Kendall Fuller will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery on his knee Tuesday.
Even with the injuries to Michael Brewer and Andrew Motuapuaka, this one may be the worst. Fuller may be the best talent on this team as a projected first-round NFL draft pick. As a junior, he is eligible to enter the draft after this season meaning we may have seen Fuller play his last game as a Hokie.
Exhibition game? Frank Beamer had a bit of an interesting take after Virginia Tech's loss to ECU.
#Hokies Beamer:"They’re exhibition games, they’re preseason games. Now it’s on to conference games. Now it’s down to being really important”
— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) September 27, 2015
On the one hand, you can understand what Beamer was trying to say. Virginia Tech is not a playoff team which means the conference schedule is more important than their non-conference schedule. On the other hand, this was not the best way to describe it.
At best, this was just a poor choice of words by Beamer. At worst, it was dismissive of an East Carolina program that had just beaten Virginia Tech for the second-straight time. I do not believe Beamer was trying to diminish ECU, but this will provide some bulletin board material for the Pirates going forward as these two teams are still scheduled to meet nine times in the next 10 years.
Motuapuaka back, Brewer getting better? While Fuller may be gone, the defense will at least get one weapon back as linebacker Motuapuaka should return for this Saturday's game against Pittsburgh. That's a huge boost for the defense which was shredded by ECU. It is also timely as his backup, Sean Huelskamp, will be suspended for the first half of Saturday's game due to a questionable targeting penalty against the Pirates.
Motuapuaka suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee Sept. 12 against Furman. He was expected to miss up to a month, but if he returns Saturday, it will have taken him just two weeks.
Brewer also seems to be progressing well.
— VT Football (@VT_Football) September 30, 2015
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McKenzie to seek medical redshirt: Sophomore running back Shai McKenzie will seek a medical redshirt for this season, the team announced Monday.
McKenzie suffered a torn ACL last season and has not run like he was fully healthy. He was suspended for the first game against Ohio State and did not play Saturday against ECU. In the two games he has played, he has only 13 carries for 50 yards.
DeAngelo Hall has Mean Joe Greene moment: Former Hokie DeAngelo Hall had a Mean Joe Greene moment with a fan during the Redskins game at New York on Thursday. Hall left the game with an injury and when one young Redskins fan told the corner he would pray for him, Hall gave him his game jersey.
Punting one over the scoreboard: Hokies punter A.J. Hughes has some kind of leg. He took to Twitter to show it off.
— AJ Hughes (@AJ_HughesVT) September 24, 2015
Moore named ACC Legend: Former Virginia Tech defensive end Corey Moore was named Tuesday to the ACC's Class of 2015 Legends.
In his three years with the Hokies, Moore totaled 35 sacks and won the Nagurski Award as college football's Defensive Player of the Year and the Lombardi Award as Lineman of the Year in 1999. He also earned the Dudley Award as the top college player in Virginia, the conference Defensive Player of the Year award and was selected as Football News' 1999 Defensive Player of the Year making him Virginia Tech's most decorated player. Moore and the other legends will be honored during the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 5.
Last week's game: 35-28 loss at East Carolina
Once again a mobile quarterback was able to frustrate the Hokies' defense as James Summers rushed for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Summers was ECU's backup quarterback, but head coach Ruffin McNeill rolled the dice, going away from his normally pass-heavy offense and entrusting the mobile Summers.
Some blame the Hokies' defensive woes on Fuller's injury, but that likely had little to do with it. Fuller is a great shutdown corner, yes, but star cornerbacks are not usually the answer to shutting down mobile quarterbacks. Summers ran up the gut on the Hokies and was able to do so because of poor tackling, not because the team was without their top corner.
Virginia Tech's inability to handle mobile quarterbacks has been head scratching considering the Hokies' defense is always among the top units in the nation. Yet, this has always been an issue for them. Considering how McNeill was able to shift his offense to a completely different style of play just to exploit the glaring weakness in Virginia Tech's defense, this is a problem that needs to be addressed quickly or other teams will follow suit.
Next game vs. Pitt, Sat. 12:00 p.m. ET
The game in Pittsburgh last year was one of the low-lights of the Hokies' season. The 21-16 score looked respectable, but the 26 yards rushing on offense was not. Neither was the 118 yards rushing they allowed to quarterback Chad Voytik. Though Voytik has been supplanted as starter this year by Nathan Peterman, head coach Pat Narduzzi confirmed in the ACC teleconference that he has a package of plays for Voytik for Saturday's game. That's because Narduzzi has been doing his homework and saw what Voytik did last year and what Summers did last week.
Virginia Tech has got to find a way to slow down Voytik.
The return of Motuapuaka will help, but Virginia Tech will also have to account for the loss of Fuller in their secondary as they face one of the best receivers in the ACC in Tyler Boyd. The battle between Fuller and Boyd would have been fascinating to watch, but now the Hokies will have to figure out how to shutdown Boyd without their top corner.
Despite how great the defense has been year after year, it's a unit in need of a shakeup right now.
Offensively, the Hokies face a tough challenge as well as the Panthers lead the ACC in sacks per game with 3.3 and boast the No. 17 defense in the nation. They are going to pressure Brenden Motley early and often, but the Hokies will have to commit to the pass attack. While Pitt has a top 15 rush defense, they are ranked only 51st in pass defense and that's after playing only one Power 5 team in their first three games.
In a complete role reversal for the program, Virginia Tech's defense heads into this game as a major question mark while the offense poses the most difficult test Pitt has faced this season.
When's the last time you heard that?
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